This archived article was written by: CJ Evans
Look around you, yes you, the one reading this article right now, take a peak around. Go ahead, no one’s staring. Now make sure your sitting down because I’m about to hit you with some pretty heavy knowledge. Everyone that you just looked at will eventually die. Pretty intense right? Now before you go off thinking that you’re the cause of their death just because you looked at them, let me point out a bit of a silver lining on this ominous cloud of death you’ve created out of nothing.
This means that everyone, even the people in this world that you would rather never spend another moment, waking or sleeping, with them will die as well. Not so bad now is it? Now everything has become a game, a game of survival, a chance to prove, once and for all that you are better than these people simply because your body refused to quit on you while theirs did. So, while no one ever wins, I plan on being the last loser so I can at least have the luxury of watching all the people around me fall.
Suddenly we have a problem. You’re the one left alive, you’re the one who spent hours and hours making sure that you proved to the deceased that you were better than them, and as a result someone, no doubt a good-meaning aunt or mother, has mistaken the enmity between the two of you for a friendly rivalry. Now you’re charged with telling the deceased loved ones just what a failure they were, especially compared to you. After all, it was their heart that failed, their brain that hemorrhaged; you on the other hand could do 100 jumping jacks just to prove your superiority one last time. So how do you tell the family and friends of your enemy just how terrible he was?
Step one: Generalize until the deceased becomes nothing more than a shadow in viewer’s mind!
You know how this works. You do something truly memorable and someone manages to down-play by giving generic praise. That’s your goal now, only the subject is the departed’s entire life. Now turning a person’s family against them is a subtle act regardless of if they have passed on or not, so you’ll be starting small. Say things like, “He always had a smile on his face” or “She never met a person that she didn’t like.” On the surface, these are positive things, but the undercurrent carries a message of how little your foe actually knew. No one really goes through life blissfully happy, unless they carried several handicaps that doctors failed to identify. You’ll want to lean away from that accusation for at least a couple more hours; after all, there is a reception with food that you’ll want to be attending. For now, just be content with replacing the memory of your adversary with a flimsy, two dimensional-caricature, whose sole enjoyment was to exhaust you with their unlimited supply of optimism, regardless of how bleak the situation was.
Step two: Point out all they left behind!
Now it is time to prove your superiority over your dead counterpart by accusing them of leaving too early. The insinuation of “they left before his time” can remind the audience how many things they failed to accomplish as they realize how many loose ends the deceased had failed to tie up before leaving it all behind for his new afterlife of comfort or (hopefully for you) suffering. Regardless of what you focus on, be it the family that he left behind to care for themselves, the goodbye you never got to share, or even all the time that you never got to spend together, it all translates into quiet failures that the deceased can only silently shoulder. Best of all, as you rattle off your list, the audience will nod and sob in agreement, your words ringing familiar as they remember the many personal ways that the deceased had let them down and continues to do so as a corpse. Feel free to get a little personal, after all, you are still making the effort, you would still be trying to spend time together. They on the other hand are only lying in a casket, unmoving and without remorse.
Step three: Encourage everyone to celebrate life instead of mourning death
By this time, everyone will have had just enough of feeling depressed and lonely and will be all but begging for an excuse to take a break, and being the perfect eulogizer that you are, you’re going to give that to them. Throw the idea that “(name of inferior, past tense person) wouldn’t want us to mourn for him today, he would want us to celebrate in his honor” and we know this since he was always such a well-wisher himself. That should be all it takes, and suddenly the mourners renounce their sadness, throw on party hats and start drinking. Because let’s be honest, being miserable is hard work.
In reality, your “well-wishing friend” would most certainly not approve. I know that when I finally die in the blaze of glory and flame that can only suit one such as myself, I would hate the idea of people celebrating my first day in the ground. I want women throwing themselves on my coffin, sobbing so their makeup smears as they tear their hair out by the roots out of grief. I want men contemplating suicide and renouncing God as they stare at my lifeless, heroically scarred body. I want Free Willy to do one more leap for freedom as he beaches himself out of pure reverence. I want wolves to howl at the moon and guard my resting place for decades after my passing. If you think about it, surely you want something similar (as would the body in the coffin), so it’s especially insulting that you’re able to trick your enemy’s family into forgetting him so easily.
Step Four: If all else fails, pretend like you’re talking about yourself.
Like I said earlier, sabotaging someone’s memory is tricky business. Think of how hard it was in Inception and those people were asleep. So if the audience ever seems like their catching on to your subtle plan it’s time to switch tactics and let all those emotions inside you out. To be clear, I’m not talking about true emotion of your nemesis in the casket. No, you want to go for the pure love that you feel about one special, uniquely charming person: yourself.
Speak as though this is your chance to speak at your own funeral. Say all the things that you wish others would say about you. After all, you and the person in the casket aren’t all that different, aside from your obvious dominance in living. Be honest and kind, but make sure that you pretend that all those tears in the audience are for you. Enjoy the opportunity while you can, soak up the sadness and remember to take a little pride in knowing that you are literally dead last.